Known for her work as a documentary filmmaker, Lana Jokel has featured the likes of Andy Warhol and Larry Rivers, is currently working with Michael Chow, and has now highlighted 12 more talented Hamptons artists in her latest film, "A Moment in Time: Hamptons' Artists." What's interesting about this film in particular—recently debuted over the summer at East Hampton's Guild Hall—was that the interviews all took place in the 1990's at either the artists' homes or studios.
It was around twenty years later that Lana discovered the old footage from the interviews and decided to share it with the world. You can see the film next month at Hamptons Take 2 Film Festival's opening night at the Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor. In the meantime, we spoke with Lana about her unique experience of reviewing and working with footage from over 2 decades ago.
Why did you decide to look at the 25 year old footage again and turn it into a documentary?
I have always been interested in films about artists and their work, beginning with my first documentary on Andy Warhol in the 1970's. Back then, we only shot in 16 mm film format.
In the mid 1990's, a friend had a video camera, so I decided to do a series of interviews with some of my artist friends in the Hamptons. At that time, the interviews were shot in an experimental digital format. I didn't think the quality was up to par for broadcast. [Plus] each artist was on camera for only an hour or so. As these were impromptu visits, there was a very casual, spontaneous quality to the interviews. As time went on, I was also immersed in other film projects which took up my time.
A few years ago, after the death of my good friend, John Chamberlain, I decided to review the footage from the 90's. I realized then that the content of these interviews were rich and interesting, so I decided to edit them into one film, "A Moment in Time”.
How were you feeling during the editing process—nostalgic, happy, sad?
During the editing, I was enthralled by the spontaneity, enthusiasm and openness with which the artists shared with me. I could see how this material could be weaved into a rich tapestry of a film.
Going down memory lane was painful for the loss of several of my artist friends. But to see them again, so alive on camera, gave me such happiness—full of affection and and as in Portuguese, the word “Saudades.”
What was it like knowing those artists then and now? Have they changed much?
These artists were then in their mid-careers or beyond. They talked about their ideas, the work progression, their process and actual works—reflecting, revealing, musing and whatever else came to their mind. Over twenty years later, these artists' works have grown, expanded in diversity and scope. But essentially what they said in the film then holds true today.
When I premiered "A Moment in Time" at Guild Hall in East Hampton, this July, the artists were seeing themselves for the first time! During the panel discussion afterwards, all looking not much aged, concerns were raised about the commercialism of art today, among other issues. But in terms of their art, I think all benefitted from age and life experience. And their art all the more relevant. I consider myself very fortunate to be part of this growth.
I have never wavered from wanting to share my films to bring awareness of the 'artistic journey' of so many talented artists.
Do you have any advice for new documentary filmmakers?
My advice to new documentary filmmakers is to follow your passions. Go out and capture what interest you. Experiment and learn and give back...
See the trailer for "A Moment in Time: Hamptons' Artists" below, and read our interview with Hamptons Take 2 Film Festival's Founder and Executive Director, Jacqui Lofaro.
By Mable Yiu
Photo and video courtesy of Lana Jokel